As the toxins were spreading throughout my body, fluid started to fill up around my heart...
About four years ago, at the age of thirteen, I contracted E. coli O157:H7. The toxins spread to four of my major organs: my heart, brain, pancreas, and my kidneys. All in all, I was in the hospital for one month. Two weeks of which were spent in ICU. After leaving the hospital I still had another three months of outpatient therapy.
E. coli has ravaging side-effects. As the toxins were spreading throughout my body, fluid started to fill up around my heart, I was having constant hallucinations, I got pancreatitis, and my kidneys completely stopped functioning for 18 days. The doctors did not know if I was going to live, and if I did, whether or not I would be mentally handicapped.
Even though the disease ravaged my life almost four years ago, I still remember almost all of my hallucinations. I was in a prison, an elevator, a friend’s house, and a hotel. The nurses told my family that reason does not impact reality, so they had to play along with what I saw in my mind. Thankfully, since then, I have made an almost complete recovery (to the amazement of my doctors).
Throughout my stay in the hospital, my mom stayed by my side almost the entire time. When she wasn’t with me, she was researching E. coli , talking with the doctors or trying to sleep. Throughout her researching, she found S.T.O.P. – Safe Tables Our Priority. This organization was a huge help to her because it was a support group of other families and survivors of E. coli. She found so much information and support while the doctors were racing against time to rid my body of the toxins that were trying to kill me.
I never found the source of E. coli that almost killed me. Now, I believe it is my obligation to tell others about my experiences and raise awareness of this potentially-fatal bacteria. That is one of the reasons why I chose to work with S.T.O.P. for my senior project. They are an amazing organization for a few reasons; they are not only a support group for E. coli, but for many other foodborne illness. They work actively to change the food system and legislation to obtain a higher level of food safety for everyone. In today’s world, where recalls and outbreaks are becoming more and more common, S.T.O.P. needs your help more than ever. If you want to help make our country a safer place to eat, please support S.T.O.P.
My scars remind me Of the bars of silence I was locked behind,
Fearing I would lose my mind
For had I lost it?
No, it was the power that owned me,
This new mind of mine,
Full of toxins-revealing
Showed me people not there,
Situations not real
They thought I was silent,
But I was not silent,
I was screaming and shouting
To be free of this seething, invisible
Creature taking over my body,
One piece at a time, terrorizing my being
They poked and they prodded
Running faster and faster,
Knowing that time was the only answer
Was it enough?
Then one cold night
As I laid awake in my bed-
Sleep never coming-
I pondered my fate,
Knowing it was too late,
I heard them plotting, scheming, believing
They could take me away forever this day
And as the shadow was closing in,
A light came upon me-
Encased me, enclosed me
A hand came and grabbed me
From the pit that was closing
Thirty days all through September,
Still I improved
Little by little,
Until they released me,
From the bonds of my terror,
To go back to life, just like that,
It was simple, but it was not so simple as they had imagined
You cannot fathom
The phantoms still lurking,
The scenes that play over and over, unending
The pain and the hurt
Now burned on my skin,
Once silky smooth,
Now torn and unmoved
Six are still left, you can see with your eyes
Not counting the many that are hidden inside
Time passes by, day after day,
But it won’t go away
I saw what I saw and
I felt what I felt,
But by God’s grace
I am saved to this day
That is why I can stand here and say:
I am a miracle- unworthy its true,
But maybe my story can help someone new